1. #1
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    Mar 2009

    Default Entrapment Escape-Wire Cutters

    I am trying to get a feel of what guys carry to cut through wire. I think most of us have heard of the Memphis, Tennessee firefighter killed when he was entrapped by a drop ceiling that fell on him and he was unable to disentangle himself from the wires that held the drop ceiling in place.

    It's mentioned here:


    I have seen guys carry cutters that are designed to cut battery cables of cars (such as the Channel Lock Rescue 89 style), trauma shears, electricians pliers, side cutters, and pruning shears. All of them seem to have at least one drawback. Too heavy, unable to be used with one hand, unable to be used with heavy fire gloves, etc.

    So far, I like pruning shears (spring loaded for one handed use, can cut through almost anything you can fit inside it) but it is relatively heavy. Right now I am carrying trauma shears in my bunker pants. I also like the Gerber Rescue Shears. I was wondering what solutions the crafty old fire veterans have come up with.
    Last edited by AssOnFire; 09-23-2011 at 11:06 AM.

  2. #2
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    Mar 2009


    Here's a link to the recuse shears:


    I think I might like this solution best. One handed, spring loaded, relatively light weight, and able to cut tough materials like seatbelts and leather.



  3. #3
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    Miller337's Avatar
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    Nov 2010


    OK. You ask a question then you answer it. Your going to be fun around here.
    Anyhow I carry a pair of eight inch vice-grips with a ring welded on the adjusting screw and a pair of Snap-On 600 volt rated side cutters. The ring on the vice-grips and the bulkier grips on the high voltage cutters allow me to use them quite easily with gloves on. Before you ask yes I have encountered live circuits after the power was cut.

  4. #4
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    Mar 2003


    Will those things cut suspeded ceiling wire ? or helix wire from flex duct ?

  5. #5
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    footrat's Avatar
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    Aug 2007
    Porterdale, GA


    The problem with cable cutters is that they are not meant to cut hard, solid wire, such as that from duct work or drop ceiling. If you have to cut several wires, which could be likely with duct work, you may find that the jaws start to notch out and will not complete a cut on this harder material. The problem with dikes and metal shears is that they may push harder wire out of the jaws before you can cut it, where cable cutters will retain the object they're cutting in the curved jaws.

    Nearly any cutting utensil can be found or made to have a spring loaded feature.

    The trick is keeping them from opening in your pockets and getting stuck, or getting them to open with gloves on in no visibility and limited motion.

    Knipex makes a couple of very good products that are designed to cut hard, solid wire, and can be had in spring loaded and non-spring versions.

    Knipex CoBolt Series

    The important thing is that you have a tool with a cutting surface all the way to the tip. Linesman pliers are not good. They have a strong cutting surface and good leverage, but if you have something between the pliers teeth, the cutting edges will not be able to close all the way and cut. With dikes, you at least have a chance that if you squeeze hard enough, you could cut everything between the jaws.

  6. #6
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    FyredUp's Avatar
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    Jul 1999
    Rural Wisconsin, Retired from the burbs of Milwaukee


    I carry a Fiskars snip that looks similar to the Gerber one mentioned above. It is less than $10 at Farm and Fleet. This will cut the cross members from a drop ceiling. I do also carry one of those Crescent Rescue Pliars.
    Crazy, but that's how it goes
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